To compare monthly rates of specific types of crashes, violations, and license suspensions over the first years of licensure for drivers with and without attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
We identified patients of New Jersey primary care locations of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia who were born in 1987–1997, were New Jersey residents, had their last primary care visit at age ≥12 years, and acquired a driver’s license (N = 14 936). Electronic health records were linked to New Jersey’s licensing, crash, and violation databases. ADHD diagnosis was based on International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification diagnostic codes. We calculated monthly per-driver rates of crashes (at fault, alcohol related, nighttime, and with peers), violations, and suspensions. Adjusted rate ratios were estimated by using repeated-measures Poisson regression.
Crash rates were higher for drivers with ADHD regardless of licensing age and, in particular, during the first month of licensure (adjusted rate ratio: 1.62 [95% confidence interval: 1.18–2.23]). They also experienced higher rates of specific crash types: their 4-year rate of alcohol-related crashes was 2.1 times that of drivers without ADHD. Finally, drivers with ADHD had higher rates of moving violations (for speeding, seat belt nonuse, and electronic equipment use) and suspensions. In the first year of driving, the rate of alcohol and/or drug violations was 3.6 times higher for adolescents with ADHD.
Adolescents with ADHD are at particularly high crash risk in their initial months of licensure, and engagement in preventable risky driving behaviors may contribute to this elevated risk. Comprehensive preventive approaches that extend beyond current recommendations are critically needed.